The United States has convinced Pakistan that indicted terrorist Osama bin Laden is linked to the Sept. 11 terror attacks on America, as it tries to show the Muslim world that impending military action against Afghanistan's ruling Taliban is justified.
"There is sufficient grounds for indictment in terms of the material we have seen and we have studied," Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammed Riaz Khan told reporters today.
And in a further move to reassure several Middle East countries that a potential military action is not aimed at the Afghan people, President Bush announced today that the United States will provide $320 million in humanitarian aid for Afghan refugees. The British government is expected to follow suit with a similar aid package.
"This is not a war between our world and their world," Bush said in a speech that was more off-the-cuff and emotional than his previous remarks since the attacks. "It is a war to save the world, and people now understand that. … We have no compassion for terrorists in this country. We have no compassion. Nor will we have any compassion for any state that sponsors them.
Bush added: "We have great compassion, however, for the millions around the world who are victims of hate, victims of oppressive governments, including the people who live in Afghanistan."
Several Arab nations have urged the United States to provide assistance to the people of the country, which has suffered through years of devastating drought after more than two decades of conflict.
The United States has been planning airdrops of food to Afghans. Concerned that the Taliban might use some of its limited air-defense resources on American transport planes, U.S. officials now say their first military action may be directed at those air-defenses targets.
Earlier, Pakistan declared the evidence against bin Laden is strong enough to indict him for the Sept. 11 attacks, making it the first Muslim nation to publicly back U.S. claims against the notorious Saudi-born millionaire terrorist.
NATO and other Western nations have already said they were convinced by U.S. evidence against bin Laden, but Pakistan's opinion is important since the country has been the closest ally of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban. The United States has demanded the Taliban turn over bin Laden, who is at large in Afghanistan. On Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador Wendy Chamberlain briefed Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, on the investigation.
Man on a Mission
With Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on a trip through the Middle East and Central Asia described by U.S. officials as a final act of diplomacy before an American military strike, NATO said it had agreed to meet all the requests for military contributions made by the Bush administration on Wednesday.
"Today's decision clearly demonstrates the allies' resolve to combat terrorism," NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson said.
Robertson said that among the requests the alliance had agreed to were to enhance intelligence cooperation relating to terrorist threats, to allow U.S. military planes to use NATO nations' airspace during any campaign, to grant access to ports and airfields and to protect U.S. embassies and installations in NATO countries.